By Ryan Lester and Cilla Longoria

When the writing/ directing/ producing duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer spoof your genre, you know there’s a trend at work. The triple threat behind Scary Movie, Date Movie and Epic Movies blend all the genres’ most popular blockbusters and combine them into unfunny, yet somehow enormously popular, mockery.

It seems as though every other movie released these days has something to do with the world coming to an end. These films run the gamut from alien invasion to volcano eruptions. They recall a time in the 1970’s where almost every other movie was about some sort of disaster. From “Airport” to “Earthquake,” these films struck fear into the hearts of many Americans.

The main difference with the disaster movies released these days is that they seem to have lost the sense of realism present in those early films.  For instance, 1996’s “Independence Day” presented us with an alien scenario that, while scary in its own right, presented viewers something that is almost scientifically impossible. One of the most recent movies in this genre, this year’s “2012,” bases itself off the idea that the world will end in accordance with the Mayan calendar. While these movies may have undertones based on real world events, such as the environmental warnings of the “Day After Tomorrow,” what is presented onscreen has become more exaggerated and farfetched. Chalk it up to advances in technology, but the recent spat of disaster films feel more industrialized and less authentic.

However, despite their lack of realism, there has been one noticeable change in the recent line of disaster movies that makes (some of) them worth watching. Several of these films have interesting characters that viewers actually get to watch develop over time. These character driven movies make for a more memorable experience. 2006’s “Children of Men” followed the struggle for one man to save the last pregnant woman on earth in a war torn world. “The Road,” based off the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, and which has just come out in theaters, follows a father and his son trying to survive in a post apocalyptic scenario.  In these instances, the viewers live the characters’ struggles and are brought into their world, whereas movies such as “Earthquake” and “Airport” were presented in a more matter of fact way.

Maybe the year 2012 will see the end of disaster flicks. Or perhaps the end of the disaster genre is as farfetched as the plots these movies epitomize. In any case, these films all have some merit whether is be the rocking soundtrack or excellent character development. We’re cool with the these movies if nothing, than for the one liners, “When they tell you not to panic…that’s when you run.”